Can Morality Be Legislated?

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It’s often said, “You can’t legislate morality.” Let’s examine this from two angles. 

On one hand . . . .

A society must have laws that uphold high moral standards. How would you like to live in a land with no laws against murder, theft, bribery, perjury, rape, child abuse, etc.?

God saw fit to legislate the morality of Israel, with appropriate penalties for infractions of these standards—in some cases capital punishment.

Israel’s government was the only true theocracy—a nation whose laws were directly decreed by God. Other than that one exception, God delegates the enactment and enforcement of laws to civil government (Romans 13:7). Legislating morality for their citizenry is one of the necessary functions of a just government.

As Paul wrote, “. . . the law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching . . .” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).

On the other hand . . . .

While government can and should legislate morality and penalties for violations, no law code can make anyone do right. Those who obey or disobey the law are making a free will choice in either case.

For those who disregard the law, even if they “get away with it,” God will eventually call them to account on the Day of Judgment (Romans 2:1-16).

It is the power of the gospel of Christ that can truly transform from the inside out the thinking and behavior of all who submit their will to God’s.

Some do not violate the law because they fear such consequences as jail time, fines, or public embarrassment.

And yet what God desires most is not mere outward compliance, but a sincere desire to please Him and live in harmony with His good will.

Conclusion 

Genuine Christians make the best citizens, not only because they are law-abiding, but because they seek the glory of God and the welfare of others.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Four Biblical Purposes of Marriage

If the Lord permits, Sara and I will celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary this July. It’s been good—very good!

I’m so blessed to have had Sara in my life all these years. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).

Why marry?

The Bible offers two options: 1) being married or 2) remaining single. Each has its own advantages (1 Corinthians 7). Whether to marry is an individual decision.

Peter, for example, was married; Paul was not. There’s a place for both in God’s kingdom.

But if we choose to marry, we need to understand God’s purposes for the marriage relationship. The following purposes are not necessarily in order of importance.

Purpose #1: Procreation

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD . . .” (Psalm 127:3).

The sexual union as God made it is good (Genesis 1:27-28, 31). He created sex to be enjoyed by a husband and wife within the covenant of marriage.

No other sexual relationship has His blessing: neither premarital sex, nor adultery, nor homosexuality, nor intercourse of any other kind (Hebrews 13:4).

Purpose #2: Companionship

Before God formed Eve, He said of Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). And He did!

God made male and female different from one another biologically, emotionally, etc. Each brings something unique to the relationship.

Purpose #3: Nurturing Children

Just as each contributes something distinctive to the marital relationship, so they also do for their children. Boys and girls need both a male role model and a female role model.

Although many single moms and dads are wonderful parents, children thrive best when they have two parents who both model and teach God’s word to their children (Proverbs 6:20).

Purpose #4: Avoiding Temptation

In his long discussion of marriage (1 Corinthians 7), Paul distinguishes between those who have a gift for remaining single and those who would do better to marry (vv. 8-9).

“. . . because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband” (v. 2).

A couple should not deprive one another of intercourse, “except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (vv 3-5).

Since God designed intercourse exclusively for marriage, it serves as the only legitimate means of satisfying sexual desires. Therefore frequency of intercourse helps prevent immorality.

God’s Plan

As with every other area of life, when we honor and observe God’s will for marriage, we will be blessed.

God truly wants us to enjoy happy, lasting marriages. And we can.

He’s told us how.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“What is Truth?”

How we view truth

One of the characteristics of our culture is the belief that truth is relative—what’s true for you may not be true for me. If that’s the case, then neither you nor I have the right to say what anyone else should believe or do.

Certainly there are some areas of life which are subjective. For example, two people eat the very same food. One thinks it tastes great, while the other can’t stand it. So who’s right? Isn’t this simply a matter of personal preference? There is no objective standard in such cases.

How we view morality

But does it work the same way in morality? Does each of us determine what’s right or wrong, as we see it? Or is there a universal moral standard?

For instance, is it wrong to have sexual relations outside of marriage? Many today do not think so, while others do. So which is right? Who decides?

Even if we do not accept the Bible as God’s inspired truth applicable to all people in every era, we are still forced to conclude that the Bible limits sex relations to the marital union of a man and a woman. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4; see Genesis 1:27; 2:18-24).

How we view the Bible

Either the Bible is God’s word or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then it’s merely a human document we can do with as we wish. But if it is God’s word, are we wise to disregard it?

Paul wrote, “. . . we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

How we view Jesus

Likewise with Christ. Either He is who He claimed to be, the Son of God, or He isn’t. He can’t be both.

If He isn’t, then we don’t need to follow Him. If He is, then how can we ignore Him?

One of Jesus’ claims is this: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

What a bold statement! Now either it’s the truth or it’s a lie. Which? If true, then how can we consider all world religions as alternate paths to God?

One doesn’t have to be a narrow-minded bigot to affirm that the Bible claims there is only one way to God, and that way is through Jesus.

If that’s the truth, then who has the right to say otherwise?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Why Not?

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Doing right

Occasionally someone turns in a large amount of money they had found.

What motivates people to do right when they could so easily do otherwise?

What kept Joseph from committing fornication with Potiphar’s wife when repeatedly tempted?

What restrained David from killing his enemy Saul when it would have been so easy?

For both, it was a powerful awareness of God (Genesis 39:9; 1 Samuel 24:6, 10; 26:9-11, 23-24).

For the best reasons

While some people avoid sins for fear of getting an STD, going to jail, losing a job, etc., the Christian’s motives are far nobler.

“. . . for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light . . . trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord“ (Ephesians 5:8, 10).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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If There’s no God . . . .

If everything exists by blind chance, then:

We’re accountable to no one.

We can set our own agenda and do as we please. If we choose to be honest and unselfish, fine! But not because a Higher Being requires it.

Without divinely-given moral standards, there is no need to be troubled by an uneasy conscience or burdened with guilt.

Why pray? No one’s listening. Why study the Bible? It’s only a human document.

However, if there’s no God:

Life has no meaning or purpose.

When we suffer, there’s no God to cry to. We’re on our own!

There’s no hell to dread, but also no heaven to strive for.

When loved ones die, we’ll never see them again. All goodbyes are final.

And when death comes calling for us, that’s it!

Aren’t you glad there is a God?

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